Bad weather caused an almost eight-month delay in completion of the new Cross Crossing Bridge in San Fernando, says Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan.
Construction of the bridge was however completed under budget with a savings of $1.5 million, he said.
Sinanan on Monday opened the bridge, initially estimated at $22.7 million.
He said, “This bridge has been long overdue for replacement. The contract started as part of phase two of the bridges and landslip programme just over a year ago and we are happy this morning that we could actually open the bridge. It did take a couple months over the anticipated period, but a lot had to do with the inclement weather. And being an active roadway and major watercourse in the San Fernando area there were some challenges as we went along.”
The savings will be used to fund cleaning of rivers and other watercourses in the community, he added.
The Cross Crossing bridge was scheduled to be completed in October 2019.
“But if you can recall there was a lot of rainfall last year which delayed a lot of infrastructural projects,” he said.
Sinanan said although he was not satisfied with the delay in opening the bridge, he understood the challenges contractors faced.
He said the newly-constructed bridge will assist in easing the traffic flow into the city.
He dismissed claims that Government was moving quickly to complete outstanding projects as the general election approaches.
“If this had anything to with election it would not have been started years ago. When you start a project like this it first has to go into a design stage, then go into tender process, then construction. This would have started in Phase Two which was in 2016. If this was an election bridge the process would not have started in 2016. However, if some people feel it is an election ploy then I am happy because it means it is a good project and this is long overdue,” he said.
Last week, Sinanan turned the sod for commencement of Phase One of the San Fernando Waterfront Redevelopment Project along Lady Hailes Avenue.
Demerit Point System working
Sinanan said he was pleased with the response by motorists to the demerit points system which came into effect last month.
This amendment to the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act was necessary to encourage safer and more responsible driving from the public, he said.
Sinanan also responded to the latest complaint by maxi-taxi drivers regarding passes for use of the Priority Bus Route (PBR).
A group of drivers staged a protest on Monday, calling on the Minister to issue more PBR passes to maxi taxi drivers.
He said, “Because of the demerit point system a lot of these maxi drivers who utilise the bus route illegally cannot do so. In the past, if they are caught they pay the fine and move on. Now they will get demerit points and they recognise it is not so easy to break the law. So the demerit points are helping us in terms of responsibilities when we utilise the roadway.”
Sinanan said the PBR was designed for a certain number of vehicles and 1,149 passes were issued at any point in time.
He said, “If you want a pass there is a list to go on and when the pass becomes available the next person will get it. We are at capacity right now and has been so for years.”
Sinanan said he met with the Maxi Taxi Association and members were “very happy” with the process.
He said the executive of the Association was not in support of those drivers who participated in the protest action.